Archive for the ‘Metaphysics’ Category


In which the veil is thin

October 29, 2011

I’ve heard it said that the veil between the living and the dead grows thinner around Halloween. I’ve also heard it said that you shouldn’t flush prescription medication down the drain, and that one can never have too many table lamps, so I’m just trying to show that there’s a lot of information out there, and caveat emptor, or whatever.

The veil does seem a little thin today, though, in a way I can’t quite explain. All day, I’ve had the distinct feeling that my grandmother has been hovering closely. And she’s dead, this is not something that could be cleared up by closing the blinds and pretending no one is home.

My brother and I hung around together this afternoon. We went thrift shopping downtown, where a parade of happy little costumed kids went from store to store collecting candy. My powers of shopping have not quite returned — maybe that’s why I dream of it so often — and I was tired after a short while. And bought nothing.

My brother and I were going to watch a movie, but he was too tired, so I’m going to bed and am watching “Chinatown” with the cat.

As I was getting ready for bed, the song Please Tell My Brother by Golden Smog popped into my head, specifically the line, I feel your love and I feel your ghost.. The singer is talking about his mother, but the words echoed how I’ve been feeling about my grandmother all day. She was not what I’d call effusive emotionally, but she was loving. And she was steadfast. And today, I feel her love and I feel her ghost. If you don’t know that song, I recommend it to you. It’s a simple, beautiful tune, and sounds great on an acoustic, if you’ve got one at the ready.

Listen, dear mother, I miss you the most
And as I travel from coast to coast,
I feel your love and I feel your ghost.
Listen, dear mother, I miss you the most.

Just a little October feeling. Forget it, Jake: it’s Chinatown.


In which I have my color back

August 1, 2011

Or so I am told. Apparently, before, I was looking a little pale, and now I have color, a process akin to Dorothy’s travels from Kansas to Oz. And because I have never been a fan of that film, that’s as far as that reference will go.

Most of what I did over the weekend = sleep, even during the day. It was great. I should have been doing this all along. My bed just felt so great after my hospital experience: I was put into a series of self-adjusting beds. The mattress was some sort of self-inflating pad that made a lot of noise and inflated and deflated at seemingly random intervals. It was kind of like sleeping on a really slow-moving waterbed. Disconcerting.

Right now, I’m reclining on the Cyclone’s bed (atop a blanket patterned with — what else — Camaros of various vintages), watching soap operas while the Cyclone folds his laundry, absent-mindedly singing Rammstein to himself. To celebrate this, I amwearing my super-classy Target version of the Hermès Collier de Chien bracelet I actually want. It’s kind of funny that Target has this whole cheap line of Hermès-looking jewelry, and I am just exactly the level of tacky required to wear it.

Last night, I mistakenly, stupidly Googled the life-expectancy rates for people with my kind of cancer. Undo! Undo! I don’t know what I was hoping for, but it was not what I found (five-year expectancy rate = 0%). whatever. I am not a statistic. I’m just me. A me who has now resolved to stop freaking myself out with unproductive Googling, and instead maybe set up a lemonade stand, save up for the real bracelet.

In other news, Mercury goes retrograde tomorrow, so look forward to glitches in communication. Doesn’t that sound like fun?


In which I summon thee

June 7, 2011

I mentioned to my mother that a coworker had come down to visit, and offered to perform some Reiki treatments on me, which I accepted. “Why not, right?” I asked my mother, whose expression turned instantly suspicious.

“What?” I asked her, using the exasperation she hates so much.

“Well, I suppose it’s all right,” she hedged, face still a mask of suspicion, and then making mystical summoning motions with her hands, added, “As long as she’s not calling in unknown gods…”

Calling in unknown gods. That statement, which breaks down on close examination, exasperated me beyond almost anything else she has said during her time here. The fact that she had to act it out was even more infuriating.

She is absolutely fine with my charismatic coworker’s assertion that God will instantly change titanium into bone, a belief that requires such intense magical thinking that I almost laughed aloud when he said it, but she is suspicious that Reiki will bring in “unknown gods.” Who are these gods? And why are they unknown? And, if they’re unknown, how, exactly, does one call upon them? It’s like Reiki is the Pitchfork magazine of new age treatments. “Oh, we have gods, but they’re really obscure. You wouldn’t have heard of them.”

I really don’t know, and I really don’t care. I’ll take any and all healing and blessings, thank you very much. Unknown gods welcome.


In which I sit, stay, good girl

May 29, 2011

Today was a sleeping day. I got a few hours alone when my mom and her husband went to church this morning, but then they came back, and my mom’s been napping in my room.

A little while ago, my mom’s husband came in with my dinner — a single pancake made of rice flour. It was good, even without butter, and I enjoyed it and thanked him for it.

“You have to have a treat every once in a while,” he said, and added, “There’s your treat for the week!”

As my week, my upcoming week, includes two types of chemotherapy and a host of anti-nausea drugs, the prospect of having the memory of one rice-flour pancake carry me through seemed unlikely. That is to say, I was underwhelmed, even moreso when he claimed that the pancake was so big, it was really like having two pancakes.

I also find the notion of a “treat” grating, like I am a pet to be appeased. I’m sure he didn’t mean it that way, I’m just tired and grouchy and sick of being sick.

I got a call on Friday from my coworker, Tony. He is a coworker in that we work in the same building, but our jobs do not overlap. Sometimes, he comes up to visit my boss, and we exchange pleasantries. That is the extent of our relationship. So I was a little surprised when he called Friday morning, exclaiming that God had told him to come down and pray for me. Like, right that instant. Ok, I said, Come on down!

The news that my most evangelical coworker was on his way with a member of his prayer team galvanized my mother into action. We cleaned my apartment in thirty minutes flat, our only argument coming when she insisted that I throw out my tarot cards, partly to avoid causing offense to Tony, who, although she had never met him, is obviously holier than I am, and partly to “free up spiritual space” so that the Lord could bless my entire apartment, including the 4 x 6″ space taken up by my evil tarot cards.

“It’s witchcraft!” my overwrought mother screamed at me, and I screamed back that it was not. “Well, they may say that it’s white witchcraft, but it is not of the Lord!” she then asked if her sister “got me into this,” which raised my temper even higher. She and her sister can’t stand each other, although each claims it’s really the other who doesn’t like her.

To shut up my mother, I threw out my deck of tarot cards and a book that was sitting nearby, about interpretation. Happy? No, of course not.

So, Tony and his friend showed up, and my mom and her husband eagerly joined the prayer circle, talking over Tony’s explanation in an effort to show how holy they were. Tony’s prayer friend prayed over my stepdad’s knee, willing the titanium replacement kneecap to change back to bone. (whatever) there was a lot of Joy and speaking in tongues going on. My mother was totally overjoyed and asked them to anoint every room in my apartment with oil. Which is fine. I’m not about to turn down a blessing.

What really got to me was that when Tony was leaving, he stopped and told me, “You know, it can be hard dealing with parents. Just remember that whenever you feel offended, there’s a door there. Look through the door to find the revelation.” The look of total vindication on my mother’s face was priceless. “Oh, yes,” she said, “Cos there’s definitely that dynamic..,” and she pointed to me and then to herself. Smug is not the word to describe her expression. Her brand-new best friend Tony had essentially given her carte blanche to say anything she wants to me and expect me to take it! I guess that is her treat for the week. Confirmation that she actually is right about everything.



In which I barge ahead

May 18, 2011

Nearly five years ago, my Uncle Michael died, drank himself to death. Just before he died, he sent me the lyrics to “I Hope You Dance,” including a statement that it wasn’t just a song, it was a message from him to me. I did not understand that it was a suicide note, and no one found his body for at least a week. Later, although I felt a shred of resentment that a new country song now has the power to make me cry, I did take his intent to heart.

After he died, I painted and painted, and listened to “Sing” and “Driftwood” by Travis, on repeat. “All the love you bring won’t mean a thing unless you sing, sing, sing, sing.” I would play it, and paint, and sing along, crying and horrified that I had failed to answer the telephone the last time he called me before giving in.

Michael loved to sing, and had a beautiful voice. Great phrasing. And he never really took credit for it or believed it, largely because my father, his brother, also had a good voice and was much bigger into self-promotion.

I’m just thinking of Michael tonight because I heard “Sing” earlier, and was talking to my mother about it. Then, tonight on American Idol — which I watch because my mom likes it — a girl sang “I Hope You Dance.” I’m thinking about specifically what Michael might have wanted me to understand. I think he wanted me to take chances he never did, to grab freedom by the hand and really live, in a way he never could.

One night not long after Michael died, I found myself at a dueling piano show with the Captain. As we sat listening and drinking our cocktails, a shambling, elderly man approached our table and asked me to dance. I accepted, and we became the only dancers on the dance floor, shaking our tails to “Enter Sandman.” The man was redolent of booze and urine, and wore a tired brown suit. I have no doubt we were the subject of a fair amount of amusement, but I didn’t care.

When the song ended, I went back to the table. “Huh,” I said to the Captain, who had watched, sipping his Captain and Coke, without comment. “What was that all about?” He paused for a moment, and mused, “Maybe someone just wanted to see if you would dance,” meaning Michael. He always did know how to make me tear up.

I have to say that, given the chance, I will always dance. I hate to sit anything out, hate to miss anything. I want my friends to come over all the time, want to sit on long afternoons with a bottle of prosecco and talk and talk and let things ramble. I love life, I love walking by the ocean to see what the sea has washed up. I love my friends and family, and regret the time we are apart.

This is why I get so edgy when I look at the prognosis for people in my condition, and just have to wonder.

Michael visited me shortly after he died. Showed up at the house where I was house-sitting and scared the shit out of the little orange cat I was snuggling with. Scared me, too, at first, but then things were peaceful, and the cat calmed down and watched him move about the room. Michael would never have scared me on purpose. He was kind and gentle, and when I saw him, he appeared as he had in his 20s: big pouf of ’70s hair, bell-bottoms, one leg crossed over the other, grin on his face. He was happy.

The next night, I took the dogs out, and was consumed with the thought that I would never know for sure if it was my imagination that had brought Michael to me. I wished he would leave me a note, or something.

Just then, the dogs stopped to sniff at something in the dirt. I bent down to examine it, and my hair stood on end: it was a wooden alphabet block, bearing the letter M.

I’m feeling sentimental tonight, not sure why. Maybe it’s my cold, maybe it’s my illness in general, or worry about my brother, just out of another psych facility on the east coast. On top of that, I’m a little lonely. I miss being in love. I miss having a partner.

I will always dance, but it would be nice to have someone who wanted to dance with me.


In which a faithless man believes

April 20, 2011

There’s not a whole lot to report today. I’m kind of floating around in a painkiller-induced fog, watching Martha Stewart. The show, that is. She’s not at my house. I don’t think, anyway. I haven’t checked behind the sofa. (Har, har — I’ll be here all week!)

One side effect of the drugs is these fantastic dreams I’ve been having. Last night, I dreamt that I was for some reason expected to perform a solo version of Carole King’s “Jazz Man” before a large audience. I have never sung this song in real life, and in fact actively dislike it, but in my dream, I was very confident about my performance.

In other news, my mother was helping me sort through some papers and sundries, and came across a deck of Tarot cards. She held it up to me, and said, “Please, can I throw these out?” in a kind of pleading tone. She is very religious, and worried about my mortal soul. Naturally, I said no. “But they’re EVIL!” she said. How are they evil? I asked her. “They’re drawing power from a source other than God,” she answered.

I’m pretty sure that my mother knows absolutely nothing about Tarot cards. She tends to make assumptions about things she doesn’t understand, like the time she proclaimed that the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was just “one big advertisement” for Wonka candies. At any rate, she did not get to throw out the cards.

I mean no disrespect to my mother’s faith, which runs deep and sometimes strikes me as troubling in its intensity, but it kind of frosted me that she told me I was engaged in something evil. She’s the one, after all, who recently left me a little note reading, “Bless those who curse you (heaps burning coals on their heads!!)” and added a little smiley-face. It struck me as a little sinister, which I could respect, but still: really? Is that really a scriptural concept, to bless people only to ultimately cause them harm?

I don’t know. I’ve got too many opioids floating around my system to make much sense of it. And I still haven’t memorized the lyrics to “Jazz Man.” Gotta get on that. Big show tonight.


In which we are truly sorry and we humbly repent

March 31, 2011

Again, I lost a post before it was quite ready to be published. There is no sense recreating it — a Demerol-and-morphine-fueled blather about the nature of pain, guilt, and wild spotted cats. Yeah, I’m not sure how I tied those things together, either.

The Demerol and morphine are necessary because over the last couple of days, I’ve developed a searing pain in the location of my tumor (the ASS, for anyone not following along). I dragged myself to the doctor, or drove — let’s not get dramatic — where I was prescribed strong drugs and signed up for a CT scan to see what the problem could be. (Possibilities: a fissure; an abscess; a tiny wild spotted cat wielding a tiny red-hot poker in retribution for generations of senseless animal abuse by the fur industry.)

Last night, in pain and unable to sleep, my mind dug up fragments of the Episcopalian prayer of confession, half-remembered from childhood. I clung to these fragments and repeated them over and over, as if God might only be waiting for my confession, to take away the pain. As if the pain was not just a setback in my recovery, but a form of punishment for some unidentified crime. Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. I cannot argue with that statement, nor those that follow: We have not loved you with our whole heart. True. I am not even sure how that might even be effected. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. Also true, especially as concerns the bitches from the hair salon next door, who occasionally try to get me thrown out of the building on trumped-up charges, and no fooling.

Honestly, though, can God really operate that way? Someone told me, shortly after I was diagnosed with cancer, that my contracting it was “karma” for an unkind statement I’d made to her. She was quite smug about it, as I recall. I wonder what the karmic punishment is for being smug about karmic punishment. Probably nothing. I don’t actually believe in karma. It’s just a word that asshole baristas scrawl on the tip jar, hoping to guilt people out of a handful of change. If there was such a thing as karma, I’m betting that there would be a special punishment for those who would invoke it to ensure monetary gain.

I believe in karma about as much as I believe in unconditional love. Wait, I’m rethinking that. I think there is unconditional love. In my mind, it is available from Aslan, the talking Jesus lion from the Narnia books. My fondest wish, and I say this without sarcasm, is that when I die, Aslan the talking Jesus lion will greet me in a wide, beautiful field of flowers, and let me curl up against his fur and sleep until I feel whole. We will have long conversations, and I will be comforted by his compassion and his wisdom, and even when we discuss my flaws and sins, he will not judge me, but instead talk me through my bad decisions, and forgive me when I confess.

Clearly, I am not a religious person, at least not in any conventional sense. At the same time, I feel certain enough that there is a God that I don’t want to cause offense with my Aslan fantasy. I do not mean it in a frivolous way. I just have no real male role model for someone who would offer unconditional love, so I have trouble imagining God as a man. Or a woman, now that I think of it. I am stuck on my imaginary talking lion model. I would have no trouble loving such a creature with my whole heart. I would hope that, if God is as wise and compassionate as He is supposed to be, that He might look at my little Aslan fantasy and rather than take offense, understand that it is the only way I can perceive Him right now. That He would regard me as one might a child with unsophisticated beliefs, and forgive me, because I’m doing the best I can.

There’s no way to really know something like that.